The People’s Report

Over the next couple weeks, as we near the one-year anniversary of its release, we’re going to be highlighting sections of the Ferguson Commission report that you might have missed — or forgotten.

This short selection explains how the language and tone of the Ferguson Commission report is different from that in a typical commission report.

First and foremost, this is the “people’s report.” What do we mean by that?

Our primary audience for this report is the people of the St. Louis region. The report is directed to the average citizens whose daily lives are affected by the issues we explored, and whose lives will be impacted by the calls to action we make. With that in mind, we have written this report to speak to an audience of average citizens — not lawyers, legislators, academics, politicians, or policy wonks.

We’ve written this report in plain language as much as possible. We’ve avoided jargon when we could, and tried to explain the jargon we used when we couldn’t avoid it. Our goal is to present this important information in a way that anyone can understand.

We recognize and have heard citizen feedback that official documents produced by commissions like ours can be written in a way that is hard for the average citizen to understand, and a chore to read.

We have tried to make this report readable and interesting. If it’s interesting and easy to read, you’re more likely to read more of it — and we want you to read it. The more this report is read, the stronger the actions toward implementation will be. If we hide important ideas behind stuffy language, or bury key information, we would be disrespectful to the people who invested their time and energy into the work, and worse, we would be diminishing the importance of what we were charged to do.

That said, as you go deeper into the report platform, you may notice that the information does get more dense and complicated. While our focus is on speaking to the people, we also know that this platform must be detailed and specific enough to be useful in directly impacting policy decisions. We have tried to keep these sections clear and readable, while meeting the needs of multiple audiences.

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